Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Phragmites australis associates with belowground fungal communities characterized by high diversity and pathogen abundance.

Abstract

Microbial symbionts are gaining attention as crucial drivers of invasive species spread and dominance. To date, much research has quantified the net effects of plant-microbe interactions on the relative success of native and invasive species. However, little is known about how the structure (composition and diversity) of microbial symbionts can differ among native and invasive species, or vary across the invasive landscape. Here, we explore the structure of endosphere and soil fungal communities associated with a monoculture-forming widespread invader, Phragmites australis, and co-occurring native species. Using field survey data from marshes in coastal Louisiana, we tested three hypotheses: (1) Phragmites australis root and soil fungal communities differ from that of co-occurring natives, (2) Phragmites australis monocultures harbor distinct fungal communities at the expanding edge compared to the monodominant center, and (3) proximity to the P. australis invading front alters native root endosphere and soil fungal community structure. We found that P. australis cultivates root and soil fungal communities with higher richness, diversity, and pathogen abundances compared to native species. While P. australis was found to have higher endosphere pathogen abundances at its expanding edge compared to the monodominant center, we found no evidence of compositional changes or pathogen spillover in native species in close proximity to the invasion front. This work suggests that field measurements of fungal endosphere communities in native and invasive plants are useful to help understand (or rule out) mechanisms of invasion.